After a 3-7 season in 2021, the Harrison High School football team appeared destined for a rebuild this year.
However, following an 0-2 start to the 2022 campaign, the Panthers concluded the year on an eight-game win streak and capped the regular season with a 49-6 victory over district rival Sierra on Nov. 4.
Harrison’s victory at Memorial Stadium marked their 12th consecutive victory in the Superintendent’s Cup series.
“As freshmen, our seniors only won two games [on C-team] and they kept building and sticking with the process it’s led to them being league champions and that’s what this is all about,” said Harrison head coach Rob LeBoeuf. “We don’t care how we did in the past, we don’t care about what we’re going to do in the future. We care about being better today than we were yesterday and continuing to build off of that.”
In their first two contests, Harrison (8-2) failed to score a point against Widefield and The Classical Academy.
Since then, Harrison has outscored its opponents by 200 points, 260 to 60. They also haven’t allowed more than 16 points during the eight-game win streak.
Harrison continued its offensive-defensive onslaught against the Stallions where the Panthers scored on seven of their nine possessions.
All of Harrison’s touchdowns came via the run starting with a 20-yard scamper from Diego Watt with 7:32 left in the first quarter. The extra point to made it 7-0.
Carlos Preciado swiftly followed with one of his four rushing touchdowns of the night.
Preciado bolted past Sierra’s defense, down the Panthers’ sideline and into the end zone for a 29-yard score. After the extra point, Harrison held a 14-0 lead with 3:43 left in the first quarter.
Sierra (1-9) with their bread and butter combo of quarterback Ryan Stankiewicz and wide receiver Micah Lumpkin burnt the Panthers’ secondary late in the first quarter to get the Stallions’ lone score of the game.
The duo combined for more than 130 yards connected for more than five receptions.
Stankiewicz found Lumpkin streaking down Sierra’s sideline where Lumpkin hauled in the pass and warded off Harrison’s defense for a 74-yard score with 3:17 left in the first.
“It’s great to have those two and we just missed two other [deep passes] in the first half,” said Sierra coach Joe Roskam. “They’re good kids and they work hard and they’re both pretty special.”
Preciado rebuilt a two-score lead for Harrison on the following drive with a 38-yard burst past the defense to make it 21-6 with 1:45 left in the opening stanza.
Teams traded turnovers on the next three drives until Preciado found pay dirt late in the first half.
Preciado’s third score came on 2nd and 6 from Sierra 46. His 46-yard run gave Harrison a 28-6 lead with 3:15 on the clock in the half.
“This wasn’t just my doing, everyone on the team helped me reach the end zone in this one,” Preciado said. “Our linemen and QB did their job all night and that allowed me to be successful.”
Harrison scored three more rushing touchdowns with Watt (5 yards), Maurice Martin (7 yards) and Preciado (3 yards) each finding the end zone.
Darion Marion-Gardner finished the night with a pair of interceptions and Colton Clarke had a pick in the contest.
Harrison clinched the 3A League 1 crown and has a guaranteed spot in the postseason. As of Nov. 5, at 8:54 a.m. the Panthers have the No. 14 seed.
Before the postseason begins, LeBoeuf wants his team to minimize their errors. Penalties cost Harrison more than 50 yards. Also, the two occasions Harrison failed to score, they fumbled the ball.
LeBoeuf called the turnovers careless and knows the Panthers require a better clutch on the rock before their start the postseason.
“We had too many sloppy mistakes and it seemed like we were asleep for most of the game, especially in the first half,” LeBoeuf said. “We squandered an opportunity in the red zone on a lackadaisical play. It looked like we didn’t know what the snap count was or we weren’t ready to receive the snap. It looked like we were going through the motions with some of it.”